NH native secures 350th win in coaching career during March Madness

NH native Courtney Banghart is the head coach of the University of North Carolina women's basketball team. By Grant Halverson / Getty

By Katy Savage

March 26, 2024

Her team was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but a New Hampshire native who heads the University of North Carolina women’s basketball team earned a milestone during March Madness.

Coach Courtney Banghart secured her 350th career win when UNC beat Michigan State 59-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 22. 

Despite her team’s season coming to end when it fell 88-41 to No. 1 seeded South Carolina on Sunday, she reflected on her team’s success in a post-game interview.

“We’ve built a pride in the program again,” Banghart said.

Banghart has earned a reputation in women’s basketball for turning underrated teams around.

In her five years at UNC, Banghart has led the team to four consecutive NCAA tournaments, advancing to at least the second round for the third straight year. The team finished this season with a 20-13 record. 

Banghart took her first dribbles with a basketball in New Hampshire. Born in Manchester, she graduated from Souhegan High School in Amherst before attending Dartmouth College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.

From 1996 to 2000, she played guard at Dartmouth, where she was part of the team that won Ivy League titles in 1999 and 2000. Twenty-five years ago on March 12, Banghart made six 3-pointers against Rutgers in the 1999 NCAA tournament—the most of any Ivy League player.

Banghart returned to Dartmouth in 2003 as the assistant coach of the women’s basketball team. She helped lead Dartmouth to two Ivy League championships, as well as two NCAA appearances in 2005 and 2006.  

Banghart’s accomplishments at Dartmouth paved the way for her to secure a head coach position at Princeton in 2007. Under her leadership, Princeton transitioned from a team with no NCAA Tournament appearances to a consistent contender. Her tenure peaked in 2015 with a 30-0 regular season, marking the best performance in Ivy League basketball history—for men or women. 

Banghart led Princeton to its only four NCAA Tournament appearances in team history.

In 2015, the United States Basketball Writers Association named her coach of the year, while Fortune recognized her as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders for transforming a previously mediocre team, which had never before qualified for the NCAA tournament.

While pursuing a master’s in writing and leadership from Dartmouth in 2007, she interviewed the winningest female coaches in college basketball, including the North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance and Connecticut women’s basketball coach, Geno Auriemma, who both have over 1,000 wins.  

“The thing I took away from that was how authentic each leader was,” Banghart told the New York Times in 2015. “When I got the job at Princeton, I didn’t try to be the next Pat Summitt or the next Geno Auriemma or the next Anson Dorrance. I realized that what made them great is they were who they were. I was going to be the best version of me.”

Her success in transforming the Princeton women’s basketball program led her to UNC in 2019.  

As the leader of the UNC program, Banghart has 100 wins and currently holds a 96-55 record over her five seasons. 

 Sunday’s game was an uphill battle. Banghart’s injury-riddled team had nine healthy players, including just one point guard from a roster of four available for Sunday’s game. She praised the woman’s resilience in the post-game interview. 

“It’s so easy when things are hard to put one foot in, one foot out,” she said. “As things got more messy in the roster, they stayed caring.” 

Some of Banghart’s players have been with her since she started at UNC.

“How do you categorize people who believe in you before you’ve done it?” Banghart said. “They’ve shown this is a special place to play basketball.” 

 

 

 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Based in Enfield, Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outside as much as possible.

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